My very strict no-rules un-diet

Let’s talk eats, shall we?

First and foremost, I track what I eat. I really don’t think you can effect change if you don’t know what you’re working with.

Second. If I’m hungry, I eat. no starving allowed!

Annnddd those are pretty much my only rules.

My diet consists of whatever I want it to consist of. Most of the time I eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, salads, beans, nuts, yogurt, and full-fat cheese. Some of the time I eat everything else. All of the time I record it.

Simple, huh?

My meals, while parts of them feature a lot of variety, don’t really change much week to week.

In the summer I was making lots of smoothies for breakfast. They typically consist of a banana, some sort of frozen fruit, 4 oz – 8 oz of unsweetened almond milk, as much spinach as could fit in my magic bullet and either some protein powder or chia seeds or peanut butter. Now that it’s colder out I’ve been eating oatmeal or making oat pancakes.

Lunch is usually the same. Salad topped with whatever I’m in the mood for that week. Lately I’ve been making them with beets and goat cheese and hummus, but I tend to get creative! My favorite toppings are almonds, broccoli, veggie burgers, beans, or even left over dinner from the night before. Anything you can put between bread or on a plate will usually work on a bed of lettuce. I also make my own dressing with a mixture of oil + vinegar, lemon juice, salt + pepper and mustard whisked together.

Dinners are quick and easy. Veggies, protein (sometimes vegetarian, sometimes not) and usually something starchy like a potato or quinoa. Nothing fancy here!

I also usually crave something sweet after dinner and fulfill that with either some sort of fruit/cocoa powder combo to get a chocolate fix! I try to limit bread and sugar for no other reason than I find it doesn’t sustain me as well as other food. I also happen to really enjoy fruits and vegetables. Really. So it doesn’t feel like any sort of sacrifice eating fruit for desert, or having veggies as a snack.

This is what works for me. Over the last year, I’ve transitioned from eating a lot of processed foods (ie. lean cuisines) to cooking 99% of the food I eat. It’s helped me save money and made me healthier!

I wanted to give a quick overview of how I’ve lost the weight so far, but I promise…more detailed posts about all of these topics are coming soon!

Advertisements

Weigh-in Wednesday

Good morning!

This week was a rough one! I had a lot going on at work since it was my last week before my three week vacation, it was Christmas, and I had to pack and clean my apartment.

Not every week is a struggle, but this sure felt like one! I had to remind myself multiple times how far I’ve come and all of the things I’ve accomplished in the last year because I kept feeling like a failure for not losing any weight this month. I tried to focus on the fact that this is my lifestyle now, and there is no timeline for losing the weight. I maintained throughout a month of holiday eating and that’s something to be proud of!

And now, the numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 178

This week: 175.5

Change: -.5

Total loss: 65.5

 

Happy Hump Day everyone!

How to go overboard without jumping ship

The last few weeks have tested my commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Since Thanksgiving, the gatherings and access to plates of sweet and savory food have come weekly, with delicious dinners and rich deserts around every corner.

I’ve indulged, a lot. I didn’t restrict the amount of times I filled my plate or how many deserts I chose to consume during this time. In the moment, it was great. The next day? Not so much.

I am the type of person that easily falls victim to the “all or nothing” mentality that so often accompanies a diet. I still struggle with rebounding after a big meal and especially after I eat a lot of sugar. It’s so easy to say, “Well, I might as well eat whatever I want the rest of the day” when you don’t track the calories for a couple of meals.

And while I did gain a pound or two over the holidays, there are a few things that kept me motivated throughout the past month so those two pounds didn’t and don’t turn into 10 or 20 pounds.

1. My personal trainer. I meet with my trainer about twice a week and he always asks me about my eating habits. Over the past month, I tried to schedule sessions with him for the day of or day after a big event. This ensured I either started my day with healthy habits, or had an early morning session looming over my night of eating and drinking. Believe me, a hungover workout would have been miserable. Having scheduled appointments also meant I was at least going to the gym twice a week and made it less likely that I skipped on solo workouts.

2. Eating healthy when I had control. I really tried to make most of my meals healthy when I could, so when I did indulge it was only during one sitting and didn’t carry over into days or weeks. I didn’t take leftovers from anyone and I didn’t bake too many of my own sweets. Having fresh meals packed with fruits and veggies to look forward to really kept me on track and feeling good after too much salt or sugar intake.

3. Setting fitness goals. Thanksgiving 2011 marked my first 5K race! Running the 3.1 miles has been a lifelong dream of mine and it was finally accomplished this year. While I plan to discuss how I got started running in another post, I will say that having a fitness goal really kept me from gaining weight. Knowing that I had a race to run provided the motivation to wake up and go to the gym when it was cold, head to bed early when I wanted to stay out and kept me from slacking on strength training. I knew that if I measured my success on eating perfectly during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, I would end up feeling like a failure and being frustrated. Instead, I focused on my other healthy habits. Running the race also gave me a sense of accomplishment when the numbers on the scale weren’t dropping.

—–

I would say that I’m ready to jump back into calorie counting full force now that the holidays are over, but for the next three weeks I will be traveling in India. Like I mentioned in this post, I have some anxiety about not having access to a scale or being in control of what and when I eat. My healthy goals for this trip are simply to not eat too many sweets. Other than that, I’m really hoping to relax and practice intuitive eating, which for me means turning down food when I’m full. A lot of my meals will be with other people, so I won’t really have control over the times I eat, but I will be able to control how much.

I’m also taking my sneakers and hope to get in some early morning workouts when I have the time and the space. In reality, I know this may not happen, but my intention is to get some kind of movement in on the days I don’t do a lot of walking and sight seeing.

By the time I come back, I know I’ll be more than ready to make my own food again and get back into a routine. It’s also when I’ll be setting my goals for 2012.

My plane takes off tomorrow night and I couldn’t be more excited! I plan to continue blogging during the trip as much as I can – so check back often!

I hope everyone had a good holiday season, and I’m sure many of you were like me and are glad to get back to normal!

Bon Voyage!

– J

Tips for staying sane in a world of diet tips

Diet tips are not hard to find. In fact, if you’re a woman of any age who regularly uses the internet or watches tv or reads magazines, I’d go as far to say that diet tips are probably hard to avoid!

That’s why I’m not going to give you any.

Instead, I offer for you my tips for staying sane while being bombarded with diet tips:

1. Don’t pay for anything. 

Please, I beg of you, don’t pay for diet advice. There are better ways to spend you money. Like on fruits and veggies, cookbooks and fitness equipment. If you’re really serious about making a lifestyle change, put some thought and creativity  into your meals and do some research! There are plenty of free calorie tracking sites out there, my favorite is myfitnesspal. At some point you’ll realize that pills, shakes, frozen meals and the like are not made for a sustainable lifestyle. Also, if the goal is to have a healthy, happy body (which it should be) you don’t want to put that stuff in it anyway!

2. Eat free samples.

Whether at Trader Joes or Costco – I always take a free sample if I want it. Why? It’s a perfectly portioned bite of something I probably don’t eat very regularly. Because I don’t keep much snack food or sweets in my home, free samples are a way for me to indulge without any risk of overeating. Also, It just feels so diet-y to turn down a bite-sized piece of something because I’m trying to lose weight. Sometimes I track the samples, sometimes I don’t. Typically I estimate about 50 calories per sample, depending on what it is of course.

3. Tea. lots and lots of tea.

I love tea. Iced tea, hot tea, herbal tea, black tea, green tea. All of it. It also is my saving grace when going out to dinner. Yes, I might be ordering salad without the cheese and salsa as a dressing, but I have this delicious unsweetened iced tea to make up for it. I don’t drink soda (never have) so no-calorie beverage options are pretty limited. Iced-tea or water. It helps me feel like I’m not missing anything in my meal such as, ya know, french fries. Ok, it won’t make up for french fries, but it does fill a flavor void sometimes. I also keep a wide variety of hot teas at work to turn when guzzling water gets boring. Telling you to not drink your calories is such a cliche “diet rule.” So I won’t do it. But I will tell you to drink  tea to your heart’s content! It’s also a good option when you’re at Starbucks and everyone else is ordering frappuccinos. Stick with unsweetened iced tea and save the calories and sugar crash.

4. The food you like is the food you’re going to eat

This may sound like a no-brainer, but I think a classic mistake when getting starting on any healthy journey is to fill your fridge with foods that you think you’re supposed to be eating. I’m a sucker for all those lists that say “9 foods for glowing skin” and “15 snacks that will fill you up” but at the end of the day, if you don’t like any of the foods on the list, you’re not going to eat them. There aren’t many vegetables I don’t like, but for some reason my taste buds just don’t get excited about peppers or celery. Two foods that are constantly pushed as healthy snack options. But sorry, slathering them in nut butter or hummus is not going to make it any better. I also once made a huge batch of lentil soup after reading some article about how great lentils are knowing full well that I don’t really love soup or lentils. Eat the healthy foods you already like, and not just the ones on lists that promise to help you “drop 5 pounds in one week!”

5. Try new things.

This may sound like it contradicts the last point, but I DO believe in introducing new foods to your palate in small ways. I never ate zucchini before starting my healthy journey, so the first time I cooked it, I grated it up and added it to meatballs. The second time I made zucchini I cut it the vegetable into sticks, covered ’em in whole wheat bread crumbs, and stuck them into the oven to bake and served them with a side of ketchup . Slowly I became more comfortable with the flavor, and now zucchini is one of my favorite foods. My point is, use flavors you already like to introduce new foods into your life.

Try new things also means, break the rules! There is no one way to lose weight, so don’t get it in your head that if you don’t follow a specific plan exactly, you won’t be successful. There is so much advice out there, trying to follow all of it will drive you crazy!

Do what you like and like what you do.

That’s all folks!

– J

Short and sweaty

The title of the post refers both to how I feel right now…and how my workout was. Double win.

I didn’t have a game plan for the gym today. My ankle has been feeling a little…off, so I wanted to get sweaty without any high-impact cardio. Mission accomplished!

I feel like I should say something here about how I have no professional training, and anything you do is at your own risk and should be monitored or something. I’m listing my workout below, but, please, do what’s comfortable and challenging for you at your level.

Workout:

Warm up: 10 min. on the treadmill at 3 mph

Overhead triceps extension with 8 pound medicine ball while standing on the half stability ball: 25 reps x 3 sets.

Deep squats, with butt touching half stability ball:  25 reps x 3 sets.

Side bends, holding a weighted bar above your head: 30 reps x 2 sets.

I’m not sure what the bar weighed, but it was the lightest of options at the gym. I realize that’s not helpful at all.

Bicep curls with weighted bar: 30 reps x 2 sets.

Walking lunges: 25 reps x 3 sets.

Leg lifts: 15 reps x 3 sets. <–these were tough…I barely finished the last set!

There ya go! I love workouts with little or no equipment, so this was perfect. For total honesty, I learned all of these move from a trainer that I’ve been working out with for about 3 months. He’s extremely creative and consistently finds new ways to tire me out every week. For a gym newbie like me, paying for training was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I highly recommend it!

Banana Oat Pancakes

Morning!

I want to share with you one of my favorite recipes. It’s a quick and easy pancake recipe that makes everyday feel like the weekend. It’s HIGHLY customizable, requires few ingredients and comes together with little mess.

Banana Oat Pancakes 

Ingredients:

Makes three small pancakes for one.

1/3 cup Old Fashioned Oats (I use Quaker)

1/3 cup liquid egg whites

1 banana mashed

1 tsp chia seeds (I get mine from the bulk bin at Whole Foods)

Cinnamon to taste, maybe 1-2 tsp, but I really like cinnamon, so I usually end up just dumping a bunch in

Topping:

1 tbsp maple syrup (I use Trader Joe’s 100% pure Maple Syrup)

Sometimes I also top mine with some fat free Chobani or Fage Greek Yogurt, but wasn’t in the mood today.

Instructions:

Mash banana with a fork in a small bowl until completely broken up. Add in oats, egg whites, chia seeds and cinnamon. Mix well. At this point turn stove on to medium-low. My stove is really old, however, and it’s hard to judge exactly how high/low the heat is, so this is where you will have to use your judgement. I let my “batter” sit for a couple of minutes so the chia seeds gel and then pour onto pan in three small circles. Cook for three minutes, flip, cook for another three minutes. Do not overcook.

These pancakes will be perfectly browned on the outside, and gooey and sweet on the inside.

When topped with 1 tbsp of maple syrup, one serving is about 307 calories, 3 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.

Have a great day!

Don’t be fooled

Sometimes the gym sucks.

It’s been one of those weeks where I have no motivation to workout. Usually, when I have a great sweat session, it encourages me and I can’t wait to go back. But on the days where I’m dragging and have low energy, it’s hard to get into a good routine.

When that happens, I try to remember that I don’t have to be excited to go to the gym every day. It is ok to have bad days, as long as you don’t let them discourage you completely. Because my workout schedule is pretty much habit now, I don’t get stressed if some days just don’t happen for me.

Also, I try and think of any reasons why I might be feeling this way. Last night, it was because my legs were tight and I still feel like I’m getting shin splints. I really wanted to run and I wasn’t able to and that put me in a funk. Also, I went after dinner. It was more crowded with a different group of people and I was tired and ready to go to sleep.

Icing my shin with blueberries. Totally normal.

It helps sometimes to realize those things, so you can avoid the same mistakes and make going to the gym more pleasurable.

I also really didn’t want to be there. I typically never force myself to go to the gym, but I have a few mantras and bribes that usually work.
When I’m really feeling low, I tell myself I will just do 10 minutes, and then I can leave. I always end up staying longer.

Or I say to myself: “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.”

And sometimes all it takes is a few minutes reading about other bloggers who had a killer workout.

The number one motivator for me is remembering that the gym is my time to unwind. It will do much more for relieving stress than an hour on Hulu. Sometimes the goal of physical activity is not physical, it’s just to zone out to some good music.

I am usually happy to be there.

The best part is, after taking it easy for a few days and riding out the funk, my body is ready to be PUSHED and I can knock out some great workouts.

And bragging rights of course. Nothing feels better than showing up to work full of energy, knowing you already accomplished something that day!

A quickie

Check back tomorrow for more on motivation and why it’s ok if you don’t always love working out!

Commitment to doing it right

Hi ya’ll!

For the past month and a half, my weight has moved between two pounds. Up those two pounds, down those two pounds. And while it took me a while to admit it to myself, I was committing all the classic mistakes of dieting.

A sidebar to this post is that I really hate to use the word dieting. I don’t really feel that I’m on a diet. Yes, I count calories and choose healthy foods, but there is no alternative to me and there are not “off-diet” days where I don’t do those things, or at least strive to to those things.

moving on.

So what have I been doing wrong? Eating too little, followed by the inevitable eating too much. D’oh!

I was exercising 5-6 days a week and not eating back those calories while sticking to a 1,200 calorie a day limit. As life goes, I would get sick of that after a couple days, have a few high calorie days before recommitting to 1,200 calories. Sigh. Throw in some holidays, sugar overload and alcohol and you have the perfect formula for weight loss failure.

So what have I done to fix it? Re-committed to doing it the right way. I upped my calorie “allowance” (ugh, another term I  can’t stand) on myfitnesspal to 1,400 a day. It’s about the equivalent of a 1-pound weight loss per week for me. Honestly, it’s probably around what I was eating anyway and seeing the higher number makes me feel better mentally. When I had it set to the 1,200 limit, I would feel paranoid that I would go over all the time and not track honestly, which led to no tracking at all.

And for me, tracking is king. Even if the calorie counts aren’t accurate, I try and track. It really makes the difference between success and failure for me, in my head and on the scale.

So there ya go. I know the right way to do things, and with all the holiday stress and eating…and stress eating…I let my good habits fall away. But they’re back now and I’m ready to succeed.